How Big Is the ‘Lemons’ Problem? Historical Evidence From French Appellation Wines

62 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2019

See all articles by Pierre Merel

Pierre Merel

University of California, Davis

Ariel Ortiz-Bobea

Cornell University

Emmanuel Paroissien

Smart-Lereco, INRA.

Date Written: July 1, 2019


We provide an empirical measure of the economic surplus loss arising from the failure of a competitive market to supply quality in the presence of asymmetric information. When consumers cannot observe product characteristics at the time of purchase, incentives for atomistic producers to supply costly quality may be suppressed. We use natural variation in wine prices across administrative districts around the enactment of pioneering regulations aimed at resolving asymmetric information problems in the French wine market to identify related welfare losses. Results from a panel analysis indicate large potential losses from the quality-related market failure, suggesting an important role for credible certification schemes.

Keywords: asymmetric information, quality uncertainty, wine, France, appellation

JEL Classification: D82, N54, Q18

Suggested Citation

Merel, Pierre and Ortiz-Bobea, Ariel and Paroissien, Emmanuel, How Big Is the ‘Lemons’ Problem? Historical Evidence From French Appellation Wines (July 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Pierre Merel

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Apt 153
Davis, CA 95616
United States

Ariel Ortiz-Bobea

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY
United States
(607) 255-0220 (Phone)


Emmanuel Paroissien (Contact Author)

Smart-Lereco, INRA. ( email )

Rennes, 35000

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics